Trailblazing as a Team in Nebraska

Two women stand on the stone steps of a government building with a black lab in a yellow puppy vest. The woman on the right is holding a proclamation

Sue Marlatt approached the podium of the Nebraska State Capitol with ease and assessed the overflowing room of spectators. The crowd was silent, which made the sudden sound of a puppy’s bark even more surprising. Sue, however, didn’t miss a beat.

“You’ll have to excuse our future service dog in training,” she said with a slight smile. “She’s still learning, unlike her ‘brothers and sisters’ who have graduated the program.” 

The audience laughed, and Sue began her speech. It had taken a lot of hard work and even more passion to get to this day; the day Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen declared a statewide proclamation celebrating National Service Dog Month.

Sue initially applied for the proclamation to raise awareness about Canine Companions. Having spearheaded the Nebraska Volunteer Chapter earlier that year, Sue understood the importance of advocacy to help grow the mission in her area.

Sue’s love for Canine Companions began in 2016, when her late husband, Randy, applied for a service dog. Randy, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, was experiencing mobility issues and hoped a service dog could alleviate some of the everyday barriers he encountered. Little did Randy or Sue know at the time just how much of a difference service dog Landon would make.

“Landon was critical in picking up dropped items for Randy,” says Sue. “Landon would retrieve truck keys from the ground which would have otherwise left Randy stranded and waiting for someone to come by and assist him.”

The impact was so powerful, Sue and Randy decided to give back by raising a puppy, Tank, for Canine Companions in 2021. Randy passed away the following year, but his hard work and dedication shined through in Tank, who graduated as a facility dog in May 2023.

Sue says she started the Nebraska Volunteer Chapter to help spread awareness about service dog rights, the need for puppy raisers and to serve as a resource for people interested in applying for their own service dog.

As the Nebraska Volunteer Chapter continues to grow, Randy’s legacy lives on through the organization he cared deeply about.

“I have been forever impacted by the gift of independence that Landon provided to Randy, and it has become my mission to support the work being done by Canine Companions,” says Sue.

We are grateful for Sue and Randy’s dedication to our mission and Sue’s continued support of the Nebraska Volunteer Chapter.

Learn more about our volunteer chapters today